Age limits

There was an interesting discussion on Roissy’s blog this morning about age of consent. Does it make sense that (in some states) you can drive at 16, can’t have sex until 18, and can’t drink beer until 21?

To those who say the drinking age is necessary because teenagers will drink and drive, I say you should at least give them the choice of a driving license or a drinking license in that case. The driving laws lead to some ridiculous situations — where a teenager may drive between one state and another only by a route that avoids a 3rd in-between state, or depending on which of the two states he resides (both states would permit someone his age to drive within the state, but only one might allow a driver his age from the other state).

I presume that if it is constitutional to ban drinking for 20-year-olds, it would be constitutional to do so for 25-year-olds, and so on. I have served my kids alcoholic drinks which is legal for me to do at home; in one neighboring state it would be illegal (a law I would ignore), while in another neighboring state it would also be legal for me to buy them a drink in a restaurant but I would not be allowed to invite a 20-year-old friend to my house and serve her a drink, no matter how mature she was. ๐Ÿ˜›

The age of sexual consent laws are amazingly complicated and different for each state. For example, in some states, a 17-year-old couple may sleep together but when one of them has an 18th birthday they must abstain until the other one does as well (it doesn’t matter if they are engaged to be married, and they can’t get married before 18 in any state without parental consent).

I don’t deny the necessity of age-limit laws for all three types of activity, but I wish things were more logical.


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13 Responses to Age limits

  1. Polymath says:

    In Harry Potter’s world, kids can drink, but have to wait until 17 to do magic unsupervised or apparate (the equivalent of driving), and apparently no one ever has sex until married although they are “snogging” by 14.

  2. Polymath says:

    On a related note, this post has gotten only 2 hits — it shows why I wouldn’t mind a higher driving age.

  3. Gorbachev says:

    What strikes me is that ages of consent are utterly arbitrary. The law requires firm definitions, but, let’s be honest – in these cases, this is impossible.

    You need to pick a line.

    And different jurisdictions just pick, … different lines.

    With 50 jurisdictions, … we do have a problem.

  4. Polymath says:

    The point is not just there are 50 lines, there are a lot more, because most states have many different lines depending on circumstances (gender, relative ages, position of authority, parental consent, felony vs misdemeanor, virginity, type of sexual act, etc.).

    In the interests of simplicity I’d probably just have a fixed age of 16 for everything heterosexual including marriage (14 with parental consent, 18 for gay sex, extremely serious penalties for violating the gay sex law).

  5. This was solved pretty well before the insanity started – you banged someone’s daughter, he shot you. lol

  6. Polymath says:

    Well you still need a law to protect the father depending on how old the girl is — how old does she have to be before he can get prosecuted for shooting his daughter’s boyfriend?

    The Roissy discussion is here: it’s gotten pretty interesting.

  7. Any age for a woman that is still dependent on her parents. If she moves out first and is maintained by someone else, whatever. Anyway, I hardly care about these things anymore. I hope the age of consent will be made 50, just for laughs. lol

  8. Polymath says:

    You hardly care, but if you came to visit here we couldn’t take you out drinking, you’re considered too innocent and inexperienced at 20. ๐Ÿ˜›

  9. I can easily get people to buy me booze and circumvent your laws. And I would hardly care about these laws in a sane country too, since the only sex that should be happening is inside marriage(and the real institution, not marriage 2.0).

  10. Anonymous Crab says:

    I don’t see why the genders of the participants should make a bit of difference to the age of consent. Either you’re old enough to consent to sex, or you’re not. As appealing as the simplicity of a single age for everything is, though, I think people vary too much for that to really work. I’d rather they simply enforce simple anti-creeper math, like the existing “dating formula” I’ve heard people use — divide your age in half and add 7 to it; that’s the youngest person you can be involved with. By that math, 18-year-olds can’t go below 16, 20-year-olds can’t go below 17, and 22-year-olds (and everyone else) can’t go below 18. The idea of 30-year olds being legally able to hook up with 16-year olds is just disturbing, no?

  11. Polymath says:

    Making the age of consent for gay sex be 18 instead of 16 recognizes a societal preference for heterosexuality over homosexuality: since teenage sexuality is still plastic, early experiences can make a difference in later settled preferences for some (but not all) teens.

  12. rebelliousvanilla says:

    Crab, if at 17 I was emotionally developed enough to go out with a 20 years old, I was emotionally developed enough to go out with a 30 years old.

    The normal answer for this is simple – when a parent can’t choose what his child does, that parent should be able to kick the child out and let him fend for himself. If at 15 I was mature enough to have sex, I was mature enough to make a living.

    Polymath, I don’t see why society should prefer heterosexuals over homosexuals. That violates the equal protection clause and the logic behind making interracial marriage ok. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Doug1 says:

    American age of consent laws are only complicate for teen and 20s guys. Many states have a sort of graduated, either simply or a whole schedule, or how much older the guy has to be to statutorily rape a girl a little younger than himself. All states have an open season age, however, which is 16, 17 and 18 in about 1/3 of the states respectively. A little less at 17; the other two about equal. Entertainment media capital California’s being at 18, and the federal porn images threshold of 18 makes people think 18 is by far predominant or the only age of safety in the US, is completely wrong. It’s 17 in NY and Texas for example, and 16 in many states.

    A few decades ago it used to be between 16 and 14 in most all US states. NY was early to 17 though. A feminist and religious right coalition (more feminist) lobbied to raise it.

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